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GOP and Democrats trade blame for shutdown, no deal in sight


The partial government shutdown will almost certainly be handed off to a divided government to solve in the new year, as President Donald Trump sought to raise the stakes Friday and both parties traded blame in the weeklong impasse.

Agreement eludes Washington in the waning days of the Republican monopoly on power, and that sets up the first big confrontation between Trump and newly empowered Democrats. Trump is sticking with his demand for money to build a wall along the southern border, and Democrats, who take control of the House on Thursday, are refusing to give him what he wants.

Trump worked to escalate the showdown Friday, reissuing threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border to pressure Congress to fund the wall and to shut off aid to three Central American countries from which many migrants have fled.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” he wrote in one of a series of tweets.

The president also signaled he was in no rush to seek a resolution, welcoming the fight as he heads toward his own bid for re-election in 2020. He tweeted Thursday evening that Democrats may be able to block him now, “but we have the issue, Border Security. 2020!”

Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump had canceled his plans to travel to Florida to celebrate New Year’s at his private Mar-a-Lago club.

The shutdown is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors to stay home or work without pay, and many are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse. It also is beginning to pinch citizens who count on public services. Gates are closed at some national parks, the government won’t issue new federal flood insurance policies, new farm loans will be put on hold beginning next week, and in New York, the chief judge of Manhattan federal courts suspended work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers, including several civil lawsuits in which Trump himself is a defendant.

The Smithsonian Institution also announced that museums and galleries popular with visitors and locals in the nation’s capital will close starting midweek if the partial shutdown drags on.

The Environmental Protection Agency will keep disaster-response teams and other essential workers on the job as it becomes the latest agency to start furloughing employees. Spokeswoman Molly Block says the EPA will implement its shutdown plan at midnight Friday. That will mean furloughing many of its roughly 14,000 workers.

With another long holiday weekend coming and nearly all lawmakers away from the Capitol there is little expectation of a quick fix.

“We are far apart,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CBS on Friday, claiming of Democrats, “They’ve left the table altogether.”

Mulvaney said Democrats are no longer negotiating with the administration over an earlier offer to accept less than the $5 billion Trump wants for the wall.

Democrats said the White House offered $2.5 billion for border security, but that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice President Mike Pence it wasn’t acceptable.

“There’s not a single Democrat talking to the president of the United States about this deal,” Mulvaney said Friday

Speaking on Fox News and later to reporters, he tried to drive a wedge between Democrats, pinning the blame on House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

“My gut was that (Schumer) was really interested in doing a deal and coming to some sort of compromise. But the more we’re hearing this week is that it’s Nancy Pelosi who’s preventing that from happening,” he said, alleging that if Pelosi “cuts a deal with the president of any sort before her election on Jan. 3 she’s at risk of losing her speakership, so we’re in this for the long haul.”

Pelosi has all but locked up the support she needs to win the gavel, Jan. 3 and there is also no sign of daylight between her and Schumer in the negotiations over government funding.

Mulvaney added of the shutdown: “We do expect this to go on for a while.”

Democrats brushed off the White House’s attempt to cast blame.

“For the White House to try and blame anyone but the president for this shutdown doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer.

Pelosi has vowed to pass legislation to reopen the nine shuttered departments and dozens of agencies now hit by the partial shutdown as soon as she takes the gavel, which is expected when the new Congress convenes.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill added that Democrats “are united against the President’s immoral, ineffective and expensive wall” and said Democrats won’t seriously consider any White House offer unless Trump backs it publicly because he “has changed his position so many times.”

“While we await the President’s public proposal, Democrats have made it clear that, under a House Democratic Majority, we will vote swiftly to re-open government on Day One,” Hammill said in a statement.

But even that might be difficult without a compromise because the Senate will remain in Republican hands and Trump’s signature will be needed to turn any bill into law.

“I think it’s obvious that until the president decides he can sign something—or something is presented to him—that we are where we are,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who opened the Senate on Thursday for a session that only lasted minutes.

Trump had said during his campaign that Mexico would pay for his promised wall, but Mexico refuses to do so. It was unclear how Trump’s threat to close the border would affect his efforts to ratify an amended North American free trade pact.

He has repeatedly threatened to cut off U.S. aid to countries that he deems have not done enough to combat illegal immigration, but thus far he’s failed to follow through.

Reporters choose favorite stories of 2018

Gazette staff members write hundreds of stories in a year.

Many of them are breaking or timely news: car crashes, shootings, city budgets, court decisions, business transactions.

But stories that reporters pick as their favorites often don’t involve breaking news.

They’re about people.

Some of those people need help. Others face challenges that test them. Still others inspire the reporter simply by the way they live.

Those types of stories make good reading, and they dominated among our reporters’ favorites for 2018.

Angela Major 

Jessica Gault holds her son, Dayton, while visiting the grave marker of Joshua Robert Syck on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in Palmyra.

Jonah Beleckis

Headline:After he died from a heroin overdoes, she struggles to live”

Date published: Sept. 30

Synopsis: Joshua R. Syck was one of 72,000 people nationally to die from a drug overdose in 2017, but his girlfriend—and countless others across the county—are still struggling to live through each agonizing day without their loved ones.

Reporter’s thoughts: Jessica was gracious enough to let me into her life to see her in her darkest moments, including her trip to her boyfriend’s grave on the anniversary of his death. She again attempted to take her own life just two days later.

This story was important to me because Jessica’s story was an example of the agony behind the dozens of overdose deaths we see in our communities. As much as the story was about Jessica, it was about the ripple effects from overdose deaths.

Jessica’s story reached all the way to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who wrote Jessica a letter, sharing her condolences.

Anthony Wahl 

This dilapidated building on Rockport Road was once Swanson’s grocery store, which was known for its good meat department and friendly service. It operated until 1980 and was listed for sale in The Gazette in May 1981.

Jim Dayton

Headline:Readers recall vacant building as beloved Swanson’s grocery store”

Date published: Nov. 20

Synopsis: Local residents contacted The Gazette to identify an empty, rundown structure as the former Swanson’s grocery store. The photo had run the previous week as the cover art for a story about vacant buildings in Janesville.

Reporter’s thoughts: This story was my favorite because of the organic collaboration between readers and the newspaper. I was never expecting to do a follow-up story on this dilapidated building. But it had so much life and energy in the memories of former customers that several of them contacted The Gazette to share stories. It was rewarding to see my original story had sparked a conversation among some of our readers. It only made sense to write another article after their reminiscing.

It was fun to learn about Swanson’s. I’m 24, so the idea of a corner store that let its customers take food and pay later is foreign to me. I can’t imagine something like that happening today. Hearing these people share their memories of Swanson’s transported me to a different era.

Angela Major 

David Hataj holds his dog, Thor, at Edgerton Gear. Hataj was named a distinguished alum of Blackhawk Technical College. Thor is in training to be the shop dog.

Catherine W. Idzerda

Headline:Character actor: BTC honors creator of Edgerton’s Craftsmen with Charter Program”

Date published: Dec. 13

Synopsis: David Hataj, the president of Edgerton Gear, was awarded Blackhawk Technical College’s distinguished alumnus award.

Reporter’s thoughts: David Hataj was one of those “shop kids” who tend to think their knowledge about diesel engines, welding, construction or any of the other hands-on trades is second-best. They tend to see a career in the trades as second-best, too.

That’s nonsense, of course. A four-year college degree doesn’t guarantee you can change a tire, much less take apart an engine or wield a welding torch.

Hataj is trying to re-establish pride in the trades with the Code of Craftsman. The code is also a good way for workers to learn what it means to do their best work.

Angela Major 

When Doris Anderson was born a century ago, Janesville was on the cusp of a deadly influenza epidemic. Young Doris survived to live through a Great Depression, seven wars and a digital revolution. The centenarian recalled her work as an executive secretary at the Janesville School District.

Anna Marie Lux

Headline:A century of stories: Woman marks milestone birthday”

Date published: April 22

Synopsis: Janesville resident Doris Anderson turns 100.

Reporter’s thoughts: Doris Anderson of Janesville turned 100 on May 1.

As a baby, Anderson survived the deadly influenza pandemic that raged in Janesville and around the world in 1918.

As a girl, she recalled a morning in 1923 when a “flying machine” scared her speechless.

As an adult, Anderson lived through the Great Depression and seven wars. Because she survived the darkest hours of the 20th century, she appreciated how much the human spirit can endure.

I have interviewed many centenarians. Anderson was special because of the clarity of her memories.

As a witness to history, she spoke eloquently of things we only read about in books.

She also understood the urgency of time.

“If there’s something you want to do, do it,” Anderson advised. “Don’t wait until next year because next year may not come.”

Doris died May 10, about three weeks after being interviewed.

Reporter Ashley McCallum’s favorite story of 2018 was ‘A movement in motion,’ which looked at the impact local women felt the #MeToo movement was having here.

Ashley McCallum

Headline:A movement in motion”

Date published: Feb. 18

Synopsis: A collection of stories from local women in leadership roles describing what they thought of the #MeToo movement and what experiences they had with gender discrimination and harassment in their lives.

Reporter’s thoughts: A community is made of small moments and a collection of experiences. No one event can define a community, no matter how hard people try to make that the case. That’s why this story was my favorite among those I reported on this year.

My #MeToo reporting didn’t center on a local Weinstein-type incident and didn’t bust a ring of perverts wreaking havoc. It brought to the table local women, many of whom are role models for young women in our community, to talk about what they thought and have experienced in terms of harassment and discrimination. The result was a collection of thoughts, stories and opinions that illustrated what this movement is all about. Harassment and gender discrimination have been woven into our culture, and it doesn’t take a major assault to affect a woman’s life and self-worth.

The short but crude comments, the uncomfortable stares, the hand that slips too low down the back; those are incidents that make women feel alienated in the workplace and social settings. We have to talk about it before we can change it. That’s why this story was my favorite this year.

Angela Major 

Craig’s Dan Blomgren (1) leaps onto the pile of celebrating Craig players Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at Riverside Park in Janesville.

Eric Schmoldt

Headline:Clawing a path to state”

Date published: June 6

Synopsis: Janesville Craig rallied to beat Janesville Parker 7-5 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final baseball game, marking the first time the two highly successful city programs faced each other with a trip to the state tournament on the line.

Reporter’s thoughts: Janesville has long been a baseball city, but these two great programs had never had a chance to play each other to go to state. Fans who filled Riverside Park were not disappointed—the game lived up to its billing. Parker was the underdog and jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Craig rallied to make it back to state for the first time in four years. As I wrote in my column that day, it was one of those days that will be remembered among the city’s sports fans for a long time.

Anthony Wahl 

Rock County Jail inmate Austin Temple sits on the edge of his bed inside the dormitory for those enrolled in the Rock County Education and Criminal Addiction Program. Temple said a course in anger management gives him hope he can find a way not to return to jail or prison.

Frank Schultz

Headline:Fixing anger: Programs see ways to turn criminals to positive lives”

Date published: Nov. 11

Synopsis: A look at anger-management programs that often are required as part of sentences in criminal cases.

Reporter’s thoughts: I got to meet Austin Temple, a Rock County Jail inmate who suffers from opioid addiction and has spent much of his adult life behind bars.

Temple has been through prison rehabilitation programs, but he told how the anger-management training he received in the Rock County Education and Criminal Addiction Program had changed his outlook on life like no other program. He seemed so full of joy at the prospect of getting out of jail this month and applying what he had learned to change his life. I wish him the best.

Angela Major 

Elkhorn’s Devon Davey (13) goes over to his teammate, Sean Ahler (3) after Ahler’s penalty kick hit the underside of the crossbar and ended the game against Oregon on Saturday, October 27, 2018, at Elkhorn Area High School.

Bryan Wegter

Headline:By slimmest of margins, Oregon tops Elkhorn to reach state soccer tournament”

Date published: Oct. 28

Synopsis: Oregon defeated Elkhorn 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the two high school boys soccer teams tied 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes. The Panthers advanced to state.

Reporter’s thoughts: This game was an instant classic and among the greatest I’ve covered. It encapsulated everything we love about sports: drama, emotion and the struggle between two talented teams. And it came down to a nail-biting finish as Elkhorn’s final kick-taker hit the crossbar with his shot.

I agonized over how to write the game story in the hours after—I wanted to write a story worthy of what I witnessed. I opened the story with a scene-setting delayed lede, describing the final moments as if they had occurred in slow motion.

Anthony Wahl 

The annual Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville in 2017 set an attendance record. The 2018 version has already broken that record.

Obituaries and death notices for Dec. 29, 2018

Joan Marie Kaye

Harris I. Thacher

Anthony Wahl 

Western Kentucky guard Josh Anderson, right, shoots against Wisconsin guard Kobe King near the basket during the Hilltoppers’ 83-76 upset of the visiting Badgers on Saturday. The UW coaching staff has stressed playing better defense to keep opponents out of the paint as the Badgers prepare to play Minnesota at the Kohl Center at 8 o’clock tonight.

Old favorites, outdated attitudes: Can entertainment expire?


They are fighting, yes, but the fight crackles with the enticing electricity that only Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn could deliver.

He is storming out the door. She is throwing his golf clubs after him. The music is jaunty. He is charmingly irritated.

Then, he strides up to her, throws a fake punch in the air at her, opens his fist and shoves his palm into her face, slamming her onto the ground.

She looks up at him with what appears to be mild exasperation. She rubs her injured neck. The rom-com musical score plays on.

So begins 1940’s “The Philadelphia Story”: with a case of domestic assault played for laughs.

Eight decades later, the movie is clearly two things: uneasy fare for a post-#MeToo culture—and an enduring American classic.

They exist throughout society’s pop-culture canon, from movies to TV to music and beyond: pieces of work that have withstood time’s passage but that contain actions, words and depictions about race, gender and sexual orientation that we now find questionable at best.

Whether it’s blackface minstrel routines from Bing Crosby’s “Holiday Inn,” Apu’s accent in “The Simpsons,” bullying scenes in “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the arguably rape-y coercion of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Sixteen Candles,” or the simplistically clunky gender interactions of “Mr. Mom,” Americans have amassed a catalog of entertainment across the decades that now raises a series of contentious but never-more-relevant questions:

What, exactly, do we do with this stuff today? Do we simply discard it? Do we give it a free pass as the product of a less-enlightened age? Or is there some way to both acknowledge its value yet still view it with a more critical eye?

Does American entertainment ever have an expiration date?


”Jake, she’s a child!”


— Two male high-school seniors discussing an attractive female sophomore in John Hughes’ “Sixteen Candles” (1984)


“How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose?” Molly Ringwald, who played the “child” referenced above, wrote this past April in The New Yorker, 34 years later. As the decades passed, she grew more uncomfortable with some of the material that made her one of the 1980s’ biggest young stars.

This can be a fraught debate, and understandably so. Some Americans, often those who wield society’s power, cast popular culture as froth that’s unworthy of serious scrutiny: Hey, it’s just entertainment. Don’t overthink things.

But entertainment is a byproduct of its era—of how we view ourselves, of who gets to call who what and who wields the paintbrushes of representation in society. And if you’re never the one holding the paintbrush, how entertaining can it be?

This delicate question pervades some of our culture’s most beloved work, from Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” on down. It is the wonderful and the problematic, often presented side by side.

So if we’re watching “I Love Lucy,” do we consider how belittling Ricky (and most everyone else) is to her? Or do we take away the fact that no matter what, she never stops trying and is never contained? In “The Honeymooners,” do we key in on the obvious love between Ralph and Alice or on his fist-shaking threats to send her “to the moon”?

If we’re listening to the Beatles, and we adore John Lennon for his vision of a more peaceable world, what do we make today of his 1965 song that began with the lyrics, “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man”?

If we’re showing our kids Hollywood classics, and we put “Gone with the Wind” in front of them, what do we say when Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) acts like a happy slave who adores her masters? What about the frequent racial and ethnic stereotypes—from Mexican to African-American to Irish to Italian—in Warner Bros.’ beloved collection of cartoon shorts from the 1940s and 1950s?

For the Gen-Xers among us: Through what prism should we view such hormone-drenched 1980s fare as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Porky’s” and—heaven help us—“Zapped,” an entire movie about a teenage boy who can pop open girls’ blouses with his mind?

And what of Hughes, who captured teenage life’s authenticity as never before but also handed us material that sent some fundamentally confusing and problematic sexual messages to adolescents?

“If you could erase all the scenes that are offensive to us today, even if you could, would that be a good idea? I don’t really think so,” says M. Alison Kibler, who teaches American studies at Franklin & Marshall College and researches how groups struggle for fair representation in entertainment.

She adds: “I would step back from any kind of one-dimensional read of movies and performances from the past.”


”Woman not made for heavy thinking but should always decorate scene like blossom of plum.”

—Charlie Chan (a decidedly un-Asian Roland Winters), “Charlie Chan in the Chinese Ring” (1947)


The “Charlie Chan” movies of the 1930s and 1940s, shown repeatedly on TV in the 1970s and 1980s, seem today to brim with racial problems: non-Asians portraying Asians, fortune-cookie sayings spouted in precious accents and, for good measure, some broadly played African-American representations too.

Yet according to Yunte Huang, who traced the character’s history, many Asians welcomed the films at the time because, in an era of Fu Manchu stereotypes, they represented something coveted: a respected Asian protagonist who outwitted every white person on the screen.

“There’s a history to everything. And we need to know history—including those ugly representations and everything,” says Huang, author of “Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History.”

“On the one hand, we need to be critical and continue to protest,” he says. “On the other hand, it is important for us to get people to talk about this. Let them come out, but talk about them and analyze them so we know how far we have traveled.”

Until the last couple of decades, older fare resurfaced only sporadically, when studios or networks put it back out there on air or VHS tape.

But the dawn of the digital era and the rapid rise of streaming culture means that now, anything can be accessed by pretty much anyone on any screen. That in turn means that a dizzying library of our cultural past, warts and all, is available at the press of a button.

This is also a different question than what’s being grappled with around entertainers like Bill Cosby, Louis C.K. and Woody Allen, whose work many now reject because of the artists’ behavior rather than the content itself (though many have identified problems in Allen’s and C.K.’s work).

Consider Apu, the South Asian convenience-store owner long voiced by Hank Azaria in “The Simpsons”—an unusual case because the show has spanned more than two generations of evolving attitudes.

Last year, comedian Hari Kondabolu released a film, “The Problem With Apu,” documenting stereotypes he saw with the character and its effect on entertainers of South Asian descent. The response included hints that Apu might fade from the cast of thousands that populate the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield.

That doesn’t sit right with Shilpa Davé, author of “Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film.” Apu, after all, is also a beloved character and community member. Isn’t there another solution?

“The easy thing is to point a finger and say, ‘Oh, that’s terrible.’ But I think we have to say, ‘what are the alternatives?’ How do we want to progress now that we have more information and a higher consciousness?” Davé says. “Does entertainment mean that we leave our brains behind?”


When Tim Cogshell was a child, he loved John Wayne. He’d watch Westerns and root for the cowboys—the “good guys.”

“Then my uncle told me, ‘Stop rooting for the cowboys,’” Cogshell says, allowing that his uncle also used a word between “the” and “cowboys” that began with an “f.”

Today Cogshell, a film critic for FilmWeek on KPCC-FM, an NPR affiliate in Pasadena, California, thinks a lot about how yesterday’s attitudes should be considered in today’s environment. Part of his answer comes down to intent.

“I gotta know the details. What’s going on here? What’s the intention here?” Cogshell says. “Sometimes you have to peel the onion. And then one decides how to think about it, how to feel about it, where to put it in the canon.”

So while “Birth of a Nation,” the groundbreaking 1915 film widely regarded as one of the most corrosively racist ever made, is viewed ever more harshly as the years pass, a misogynist bigot like Archie Bunker from “All in the Family” presents a different story: Whether a successful portrayal or not, Cogshell says, it was intended to highlight a problem and get it discussed.

Some of this discussion is perhaps moot. YouTube-savvy teenagers are probably not watching “Birth of a Nation,” “The Mask of Fu Manchu” or even “Porky’s” on their mobile devices.

The solutions, though, suggest a general direction: Don’t simply ban or eliminate or delete. Talk about stuff—whether formally, when it’s presented to the public, or informally at home. And don’t assume we’re smarter today; as you read this, entertainment is being made that’ll be just as problematic to our great-grandchildren.

And involving more voices in the production of today’s popular culture—and the selection, curation and characterization of yesterday’s—can make sense of this more than dismissing the issue as overreaction or scrubbing the leavings of less-enlightened eras.

That doesn’t mean that newly offensive classics can’t be entertaining. Many of these things are American favorites for a reason: They resonated with us over many years, and have things to say that remain relevant—and, at times, fun and escapist.

But wherever you come down, to suggest that entertainment—music, movies, TV, a multibillion-dollar industry designed to sell our culture’s stories back to us in infinite configurations—is not something to examine sometimes under a more close-up lens seems a bit self-defeating. This, after all, is us—maybe not an inclusive enough “us,” maybe not the “us” that many want us to be, but something that demands to be understood.

Let Molly Ringwald have the last word: “Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism, so that we may properly gauge how far we have come, and also how far we still need to go.”